Course Lecture Titles
1. Heritage and Destiny
2. Young Churchill
3. On the Empire's Frontier
4. Political Beginnings
5. Churchill and Controversy
6. Post-War Challenges
7. In the Wilderness
8. The Nazi Menace
9. Rallying the Nation
10. The Tide of War Turns
11. Champion of Freedom
12. The Legacy of Churchill
Winston Churchill is arguably the greatest leader of the 20th century, and one of the greatest democratic statesmen ever.
His friend, colleague, and esteemed political foe Clement Attlee memorialized him as "the greatest Englishman of our time—I think the greatest citizen of the world of our time."
Churchill is eminently worthy of study because he is proof that a single individual can change the course of history for the better and make of life a blessed and noble thing, despite public and private trials too numerous to name.
A Champion of Freedom
At an awful hour when freedom and right stood in mortal peril before tyranny and brutal terror, Churchill, with his great-souled courage, genius, and eloquence, rallied the British people to rise and proudly meet "their finest hour."
He stood alone against the Nazi onslaught. And from there he led his people to victory, which puts us all in his debt.
Who was this extraordinary man, and how did he accomplish this amazing feat?
Moreover, how was it that this achievement was just a single part of a long and fruitful life that can only be called stunning in the degree of its accomplishment?
of Stunning Accomplishment
These lectures will introduce you to a Churchill who was:
* a successful politician who won his seat in Parliament at the age of 26
* a statesman of vision and principle
* a brilliant orator who stirringly invoked timeless concepts of valor, honor, and freedom just when the civilized world needed them most
* a brave, magnanimous, and resourceful soldier in battles large and small
* a gifted public servant who helped his country in a variety of key cabinet posts, never shirking a tough assignment or dodging a tough issue
* a military innovator and strategist who outpaced his contemporaries in his grasp of the impact of technology upon warfare
* a deservedly eminent and best-selling author who won the Nobel Prize for literature, whose biography of Marlborough has been called the greatest historical work of the 20th century, and who had already become a millionaire through his writings when he took his seat in Parliament
* a gifted painter (mostly of landscapes) whose artistic work brought him a considerable income during his life and still hangs today in major museums
* a loving son, faithful husband, and doting father who won the devotion of his children.
A Literary Output Equal to That of Five Lifetimes
In his writings alone, Churchill completed five works that would, in Professor Fears's words, " each be a life work for most academic historians today":
* Lord Randolph Churchill, 2 vols. (1906)
* The World Crisis, 6 vols. (1923-1931)
* Marlborough, His Life and Times, 4 vols. (1933-1938)
* A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, 4 vols. (1956-1958)
* The Second World War, 6 vols. (1948-1953).
And as we've already noted, those writings were far from "alone" in the accomplishments of his life.
Exceptional Subject, Exceptional Teacher
To encompass the almost unimaginably rich words and deeds, works and days of this multifaceted genius in a single lecture series is a daunting task.
But we think you'll agree that Professor Fears is a man superbly suited to the job.
Professor Fears begins at the supreme moment in Churchill's life, as he spoke to the House of Commons on June 4, 1940, declaring to the world that Britain "shall never surrender."
As Churchill later wrote, his whole past life "had been but a preparation for this hour and this trial."
And you will learn how Churchill, despite the grave ordeal he and his nation faced, met this trial with buoyancy and hope by drawing upon his heritage of courage and his store of principle.
The Four Supreme Qualities of Statesmanship
Drawing upon the most recent historical scholarship and richly documenting his lectures with material from Churchill's own writings and speeches, Professor Fears argues that there are four supreme qualities that merit for Churchill the title of statesman.
In fact, Professor Fears goes even further.
He argues that Churchill belongs with Pericles of Athens and Abraham Lincoln as one of the greatest statesmen in the history of democracy because of:
* his bedrock of principles
* his moral compass
* his vision
* his ability to build a consensus to achieve that vision.
These qualities, Professor Fears claims, are intimately related to Churchill's lifelong faith in the ideal of liberty under law and to his belief in absolute right and wrong.
It was this belief that enabled him to discern, name, and denounce the wickedness of Hitler at a time when such a stance was far from common.
Twin Ideals of Liberty and Justice
For Churchill, the ideals of liberty and justice were best embodied in history by the twin bastions of Britain and the United States.
Those ideals guided him through all the issues and challenges over the decades, and led him to become a friend of social justice but a foe of socialism.
He remained a fearsome enemy to both fascist and communist tyranny, even though he was willing to bring his country into an alliance with the latter when the former presented the more immediate threat.
No Stranger to Controversy
Throughout his life, Churchill never shrank from controversy and never lacked for critics. Many of his personal qualities tended to provoke controversy, including his refusal to "stay in his box," compromise his vision, or avoid difficult decisions.
Professor Fears evaluates some of the most influential criticisms of Churchill, many of which were first heard during his lifetime.
He explains why historians representing a wide range of political opinions have assailed Churchill, and sketches briefly how these critics may be answered.
In the end, perhaps the spirit of this indomitable man is best captured by some advice he gave in the fall of 1941 to the boys of Harrow, his old school:
"Never give in," said the old lion, "Never, never, never, never!"
He never did.
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